Lilacandcream Fantasy Fragrance & Gifts are specialist retailers based in St Austell, Cornwall. Their aim is to make your shopping experience a pleasure. It is a place to escape into a world of fairies and unicorns; dragons and dreamcatchers, wonderful aromas as well as mystical gifts.
From EBay To St Austell
Karen Blackburn began the Lilacandcream business in 2004 to provide a second income, whilst she was still working full time. Initially she traded just on eBay. The business did well, so Karen soon had her own website, and was able to work in the business full-time by 2007. Lilacandcream has now evolved to a bricks and mortar shop in St Austell as well as having an important online presence.
Escape to a world of fragrance, fairies, dragons and unicorns in this delightful shop in St Austell, Cornwall
The website has just recently been re-vamped with a bespoke new site to better represent the product lines. Karen recalls that when the business began she was living in Rainworth, Nottinghamshire and she just worked out of her spare room and was delighted when she later upgraded to a shed in the back garden! Now with her own shop in the South West, she can look back on her journey and see the progress!
Lilac And Cream – Named After a Cat!
When asked about how the name Lilacandcream Fantasy, Fragrance & gifts came about, Karen replied
‘The “Lilacandcream” part was my old ebay user name from when I first started trading back in 2004. I’d tried various options of my name to get a unique user account but all were taken. At the time, my partner had a beautiful lilac and cream coloured cat called Flora and this is where the Lilacandcream came from. We’ve recently re-branded as specialists in the fantasy, fragrance & gifts sector so have used this in our business name to immediately let our customers know exactly what we do’
Passionate About Products and Customers
As the business has increased, Karen has come across lots of great new products that she is very passionate about. Karen uses the products herself so she can really help customers choose the best products for themselves or for a gift by being able to recommend items that she has personal experience of, rather than just giving them the manufacturers blurb.
Karen says: ‘Because I’m a specialist in what I do, I take time to research the products before stocking them. The crystals, essential oils & fragrance products, I use daily myself. I try to source products that are unique (our fantasy greeting cards are made locally in St Austell & are exclusive to us). I also try to source locally produced products such as St Justin jewellery hand made in Cornwall. Even the items manufactured in India & China etc we use local importers based in Cornwall & Devon to try to keep money in the local economy & support local jobs.’
Karen has a variety of customers but feels that perhaps many of her regular customers are women who perhaps work and have children and like to have some time out to meditate and relax and and they might use incense and crystals to help. Customers who come into the the shop are mainly from the South West, although she’s had visitors from all over the UK as well as Spain, Germany, France, Russia and Thailand. Her website brings in customers from all over the world.
She almost had a famous customer when Nick Knowles was spotted looking at her shop window one day – but alas he never went in!
Karen tries to be creative with her window displays to attract customers. She has created a zen garden type display with a water feature on gravel together with products on the display & hanging point of sale. She was rather proud of it until she overheard two ladies talking as they walked past the window. One said to the other “Oooo that’s horrid! Fancy having a grave in your window!” Karen says ruefully ‘I guess the display means different things to different people but at least it made them look. I am glad to say that many customers really love it along with the sound of the gently running water!’
Why South West?
Karen relocated from Nottinghamshire as her partner, who was born in Cornwall, wanted to move back. Karen didn’t need much persuading, having lived in land-locked Nottinghamshire all her life she was quite keen to live by the sea. She did however recognise she had been very blessed to live near Sherwood Forest, which she found stunningly beautiful. She finds Cornwall more rugged and with a completely different atmosphere.
She says reflectively ‘There really is something in the air down here & I’ve found that people are much more open both spiritually & mentally. I’ve made lots of new friends & love the simplicity of life down here although “dreckly” is sometimes quite frustrating as the pace of life is so much slower than “up country”.” (Dreckly – for those not familiar with it, is the Cornish version of ‘mañana’!)
Karen feels that, although she relocated due to personal reasons, she has found it’s a great place to have a business. She’s had fantastic support from local customers all year round, plus she gets to meet lots of great visitors from all over the UK & further afield. She’s also received a lot of business mentoring support and found several excellent business networking groups where local business can forge relationships and support each other. She loves the palable community spirit too!
Karen is now set to grow the business further. She wishes to grow the online side of the business and give customers the same personal approach & service online as in the shop although its hard to re-create a fragrance via a computer screen! She hopes to find larger premises within the next two years and be able to have a therapy/reading room, so local tarot/angel card readers, hypnotherapists, reiki healers etc can utilise the space on a cost effective basis to bring even more benefits to her customers.
She wishes to expand her product range on the fantasy, fragrance & gifts theme to bring her customers more choice of products to help them in their daily lives and also be the first port of call for gifts for their entire family.
She has found that men particularly love the native American dream-catchers & fantasy pictures. These are not available online currently, so the curious will have to visit her shop to see them!
Karen’s passion for great customer service and commitment to supplying only the best products has helped her grow her business. She gets a lot of business from word of mouth. She clearly loves the South-West, supporting the local economy whenever she can. Karen can also be found on Twitter @lilacancream and at many local business networking meetings. To view her products, see the website www.lilacandcream.co.uk